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How to Structure a Training Department


Last year we outsourced our training and development function to a third party whilst at the same time implementing a new Oracle based LMS system. Currently I am working with the outsource partner to determine the best structure for their L&D team and to define roles and responsibilities for team members. They are a team of some 16 people managing the delivery of some 20,000 training days a year through, largely external training providers, to some 12,000 uk based staff. I am keen to hear from anyone that has been involved in such a project before to hear what worked well and what did not work quite so well.

Nick Chammings

One Response

  1. Structure of L&D Dept
    I have not been involved in quite the sort of project you describe but have seen a number of structural variations. I guess some key themes would include:
    1. An account manager or business partner structure – where each of the team takes responsibility for an area of the business. This is best for building up relationships, getting to know the particular needs and context of different areas of business (especially where they are very different or divided into geographic regions) and for taking more of a proactive role. But it does need good lateral coordination across the team and more of a consultancy-style remit.
    2. Subject specialists structure – where members of the team specialise in different areas of training such as IT, management, technical, sales, etc. This is good where they are involved in design or for managing specialist suppliers. But you have to watch for silo thinking and competition for resources.
    3. Task based structure – where different team members focus on different tasks such as client liaison, sourcing and contracting with course suppliers, and elearning suppliers, event management (eg dates, venues, resourcing), evaluation, etc. This becomes an option with a big operation like yours but does need excellent systems and team communications.
    I suspect your partner may need to invent a structure that is bespoke to your circumstances, which may involve a blend of the above.
    Just one further word in passing. It sounds like your partner organisation is just a broker rather than a supplier. If so, I’d watch for three main problems: a disconnect between the real needs of the business and what gets supplied; drift in the cost value equation (this is an expensive way to outsource and you need to make sure the value they bring is kept high); and, quality of service (eg professionalism, speed and courtesy). I’d keep these three at the front of your mind when agreeing any changes.
    Best of luck


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